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Dangers of Medical Identity Theft

Identity theft is a worldwide phenomenon with very personal results to those who’ve been victimized by con artists and thieves. You and your loved one need to be ever vigilant in guarding his or her personal, financial and medical identities.

Your loved one’s medical identity could be a target of thieves who wish to capitalize on his or her insurance and or benefits. How does that work? It works the same way that a con man phishes for information in e-mails, or that “lawyers” look for information when helping a mark recover sweepstakes money—when he or she have never participated in a sweepstakes. Thieves get a hold of your social security information and your insurance information and use it for their own purposes.

Actually, this can be worse than simple financial identity theft. Every time a thief uses your medical identity, some of his or her information mixes with yours.

If your loved one’s medical identity is compromised and the thief gets medical treatment as him or her, those records may be tainted by the thief’s blood type, a drug showing up in his or her system, or a malady that your loved one doesn’t have.

All of these incorrect findings could be attributed to your loved one. This can lead to a person receiving incorrect treatment and could result in your loved one to be injured or become sick.

Thieves can also use your or your loved one’s information to get prescription drugs. Again, if your medical information mixes with that of the thief, your insurance and credit will take a hit. Take a look at your loved one’s medical records. Has he or she received bills for medical services he or she did not receive? Has your loved one been denied coverage for a condition he or she doesn’t even have?

Vigilance is key here in the same way you guard your loved one’s financial identity. Take the time to review Medicare Summary Notices and Explanations of Benefits for inaccurate charges. If you find them, demand that they be removed. Document all of your loved one’s visits to the physician.

Don’t give your loved one’s information to ANYONE but Medicare approved physicians, and providers. If you need assistance in spotting predatory “suppliers” or “providers” that aren’t approved, contact your Senior Medicare Patrol, at www.smpresource.org, or call 1-800 MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

Resource: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

A version of this article appeared in the Private Health News.